Research shows link between poverty and violence. Is higher minimum wage a solution?

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The Lincoln community seems to be seeing more and more violence, with multiple recent homicides.

Some supporters of raising the minimum wage in Nebraska say doing so would dramatically cut down on gun violence.

After it was announced that the $15 minimum wage petition qualified for the November ballot, Nebraskans Against Gun Violence shared articles arguing that violence and poverty are closely connected.

“Poverty increases violence, poverty increases domestic violence, we’ve seen a correlation with suicide,” Executive Director Melody Vaccaro said.

One of the pieces includes a study of almost 68,000 gun-related deaths between 2007 and 2016.

More than half of the deaths were in counties “with a high concentration of poverty,” as measured by the federal poverty line.

Researchers go on to suggest that over 34,000 lives could have been saved during that time frame, if poverty levels in those counties matched the wealthiest areas.

Pastor Tom Barber, CEO of People’s City Mission, Pastor Tom, said he sees this correlation between the impoverished and violence every day.

“People who are poor are sometimes very helpless, and they don’t know how to get out of it,” he said. “That can lead to people dealing with their feelings inappropriately, so they turn to violence in some way.”

Barber has said that both the victim of a recent homicide and the man charged in the slaying had stayed at the shelter.

The mission is holding a vigil for the victim on Wednesday.

This week, there have already been multiple shootings across the state.

On Labor Day, alone a man was shot outside of a Lincoln McDonald’s while a teen was shot outside of a Grand Island Super Saver.

“When we improve economic status, the whole family is able to thrive,” Vaccaro said. “So when you’re looking at gun violence, and looking at a 360 approach, that also addresses the status of the family.”

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